A Tennessee producer reaps the benefits of city growth and looks to capitalize on a recently approved barge port project.
BY BRIAN RICHESSO
Winn Materials’ is a versatile aggregates producer with a prime location in the growing city of Clarksville, Tenn. Positioned in the northern part of the Volunteer state, and only about 10 miles from the Kentucky border and 50 miles northwest of Nashville, Tenn., the company has weathered a skittish economy with several stable projects that have re- quired a steady stream of construction materials.
Hemlock Semiconductor invested $1.2 billion in a new plant in Clarksville that will make polysilicon, a key raw material used to manufacture solar cells and semiconductor devices, with future expansion anticipated. Fort Campbell, an Army base on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, has continued to grow its infrastructure. And the Tennessee and Kentucky departments of transportation consume a portion of the company’s near 2 million annual tons of aggregates production.
“Considering the economy, this is a very stable market for us,” says Chad Swallows, vice president and general manager of Winn Mate- rials. “Between the Fort Campbell investment and Hemlock and some ongoing projects with TDOT, we’re very fortunate to be in Clarksville.”
Winn Materials has pushed forward on these projects with help from its owner, StonePoint Materials, a private company that acquires aggregate operations and related businesses in the United States. StonePoint Materials has invested in the required capital to keep material moving out of the quarry, Swallows says.
The company utilizes a Lippmann 5062 primary crushing station, which averages more than 1,000 tph, and a pug mill system that follows suit at 1,000 tph. The timing of the pug mill system installation in 2009, with design and construction by Bramco-MPS, was directly tied to the Hemlock project. The company also added a Caterpillar 385 material handler last year.
“StonePoint Materials is definitely willing to invest to provide a return, spreading our footprint to reach markets we didn’t reach before and actively looking to grow the business,” says Swallows, an aggregates industry veteran who formerly worked for Rinker Materials and joined Winn Materials in 2007 when StonePoint Materials acquired the company.
Another key element of Winn Materials’ business is its 600-ft. barge terminal on the Cumberland River that allows it to expand into other markets. When Jerry Winn founded the company in 1996, he wanted to develop the barge port in association with the quarry, Swallows says. That side of the company is known as Winn Marine.
A storage facility is seen here under construction in
anticipation of Winn Materials’ barge port expansion project.
Top: Stockpiles of many sizes outline the Winn Materials operation in northern Tennessee, about 10 miles from the Kentucky border. Middle: A haul truck dumps shot rock into the primary crusher, while a secondary breaker is at the ready. Bottom: Winn Materials operates a pug mill at its site, which the company says produces 1,000 tph.
“There was real opportunity for expansion,” Swallows adds. “When Jerry started the business, there was no other multi-purpose port in the area.”
The company shows its versatility by moving aggregates along the 700-mile river – it is certified to ship to Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky – and importing and exporting a variety of other industry materials, including sand, agricultural products and metals. Imported materials are used locally and through- out Montgomery County, and local companies can expand their markets by exporting materials.
But in order to accommodate that growth, Winn Materials needed more space for the port. It requested the re- zoning of 145 total acres from the city of Clarksville and Montgomery County commissioners. After a lengthy and sometimes contentious process, Winn Materials was given the final go-ahead last December on the $40 million project and looks to begin expansion in mid-year.
“We look forward to developing and growing our business and growing the business in the city of Clarksville as well,” says Sean Cotham, area operations manager for Winn Materials.
However, the barge port project didn’t move forward without resistance. It faced opposition from a group known as Friends of Dover Road, which argued that the rezoning would decrease home and property values and increase pollution and truck traffic.
Winn Materials argued otherwise and instead provided a number of benefits to the expansion. It said the expansion project would put about 400 people to work and support more than 4,000 jobs in the community. Truck traffic actually will lessen as local businesses utilize the port to expand their markets, and the company will grow the buffer zone between it and the community, Swallows says.
“After we spent some time with them and had a meet-and-greet here on site to talk, answer questions and lay out the facts, we didn’t have as much opposition,” says Cotham. “Folks were educated on what we were trying to do rather than the fear of the un- known and being opposed to it.”
In dealing with community opposition, the company took the approach that it didn’t have anything to hide. It welcomed com- munity members to its office, and Swallows would escort them on site for further discussion, allowing them to take photos.
“Overall the port is real good for the community, to recruit new industry, bring local jobs and more manufacturing to the area,” Swallows says.
Cotham adds, “The port will allow us to have the flexibility to grow our business and in turn better serve other industries in Clarksville. We want to be a one-stop shop. It’s not so much an expansion of the quarry; it’s growing our current terminal.”
Winn Materials employs about 35 people in Clarksville, with the limestone quarry offering more than 100 million tons of reserves on about 175 acres of land.
Its sister company, StonePoint Materials owned McIntosh Construction, pro- duces asphalt at two plants in Clarksville for its paving and construction business. Winn Materials supplies the aggregates used to manufacture the asphalt.
Last August, Winn Materials expanded its footprint to the north when StonePoint Materials acquired the Cherry Grove limestone quarry from North American Limestone Corp. and renamed it Winn Materials of Kentucky. Swallows manages the Trenton, Ky., company, which has an estimated 39 million tons of lime- stone reserves and serves the south- western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee markets. PQ
PIT&QUARRY May 2012 www.pitandquarry.com